Do It – Write: Part 1

Do It – Write: Part 1

In your capacity as a leader/manager, you may be called upon to make a presentation to a group regarding the work your organization does, to serve as a speaker for seminars or workshops, to write a grant or a proposal or to prepare a report for your boss or board of directors.

The next time you find yourself involved in one of these activities, ask yourself if what you have to say might be of interest to a wider audience. If so, when you do one of the above activities, write. Consider turning that report or speech into an article for a magazine, newsletter or journal.

The “Do It – Write” idea came to me quite by accident. Just prior to moving to Conroe Texas in November, 1979, to begin my job as Director of the Montgomery County Juvenile Department, I attended a meeting of The Texas Corrections
Association. The editor of that association’s journal asked me to submit an article for publication. Extremely flattered, I readily agreed. However, I moved to Conroe, got involved in my new job and forgot about writing the article.

When the deadline for submission my manuscript was imminent, I frantically began searching for a subject for the article. In my search I discovered the penciled outline of a speech I had given numerous times to college classes and civic
groups. That outline became the skeleton around which I built the article, “A Philosophy of Juvenile Detention,” which appeared in the January/February 1980 issue of the Texas Journal of Corrections.

How to Get People to Want to do What You Want Done!

How to Get People to Want to do What You Want Done!

I wanted one of those facilities for my jurisdiction. The state required that the application for these funds be approved by the local Board of Judges prior to submission. I knew each of the judges on my board. I knew their values and their judicial philosophies. I went to each judge individually to try to persuade him or her to support the application when it came to the entire Board for official approval. What I said in my presentation to each of the judges was based upon his or her philosophy.

While there were 9 judges on the board, I am going to share with you the approach I took with the two who were on each end of the continuum of judicial philosophies. On one end was a judge who had been the elected prosecutor for 12 years before ascending to the bench. His philosophy of probation was something like “trail ‘em, nail ‘em and jail ‘em.”

The other judge was what I refer to as a stereotypical “frustrated social worker” judge. His approach to community supervision was therapeutic. He wanted to “save the world,” but he continued to give offenders chance after chance long after their behavior demonstrated they had no desire to change.

Supervisors Who Are Afraid To Face Challenging Personnel

Supervisors Who Are Afraid To Face Challenging Personnel

The situation in the column to which the reader is responding, the supervisor had valid reasons for terminating the employment of someone. That being the case, the expected performance would be that the supervisors appropriately respond to an employee who was not performing as he/she should.

Since the article dealt with the issue of termination, we can assume that either there had been attempts to address the poor performance of the employee with a model of progressive discipline or that the issue was so great as to justify proceeding directly to termination of employment.

The current performance is that the supervisor is failing to respond appropriately to the need to terminate an employee.

The difference is that the supervisor is not performing effectively and the employee who needs to be terminated remains an employee of the organization.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 5

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 5

So far in this series, we have explored the importance of creating a mission statement (which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose), developing a vision statement (which provides personnel direction in the form of a mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve at some point in the future) and identifying the organizations’ core values (the principles, beliefs and philosophy by which the organization will operate).

We also pointed out that the vision, mission and core value statements need to be more than something just hanging on the walls of the office, printed in the organization’s literature, and talked about in new employee orientation. All three must be implanted in the hearts of the organization’s employees and the decisions being made must be made on the basis of whether the decision is consistent with the organization’s values, will help the organization accomplish its mission and enable it to achieve its vision.

With the vision, mission and core values as the foundation upon which the new culture will be built, the administrator needs to understand that changing an organization’s culture occurs in three ways:Hiring and keeping team members who buy-in to the organization’s mission and vision and share the organization’s core values.  In selecting employees, administrators must focus on doing more than screening for skills, knowledge and abilities required to do the job. They must also screen for organizational fit.  Employees who share the same values, and buy-in to the organization’s vision and mission and who feel valued as employees will help shape the organization’s culture by serving as examples to other employees.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 4

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 4

In the first two parts of this series of articles we explored the importance of having a mission statement (which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose), a vision statement (which provides personnel direction in the form of a mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve at some point in the future) and pointed out that the vision and mission statements need to be more than something just hanging on the walls of the office, printed in the organization’s literature, and talked about in new employee orientation.

For a mission statement to become a mission and for a vision statement to become a vision, it has to be implanted in the hearts of the organization’s employees and decisions must be made on the basis of whether the decision is consistent with the mission and will help the organization achieve its vision.

Since a vision statement is not a vision until there is buy-in from the organization’s employees, we also provided some methods of gaining buy-in from employees.

In part 3, we focused on another essential ingredient in the process of building or reshaping organizational culture – core values. Core values are the principles, beliefs and philosophy by which the organization operates. In that column, we also provided a process for identifying and/or creating organizational values.

This month we will wrap up our discussion on values by focusing on instilling them in the organization.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 3

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 3

As noted in the title above this is the third part of a series of articles on building or reshaping organizational culture. In the first two parts, we discussed the importance of having a mission statement – which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose – and a vision statement – which provides

In the first two parts, we discussed the importance of having a mission statement – which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose – and a vision statement – which provides personnel direction in the form of a mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve at some point in the future.

We also pointed out that it is important that the vision statement must be more than just something that is on the walls of the office, in their organizational literature, and what they talk about in new employee orientation. For a vision statement to become a vision it has to be planted in the hearts of employees and decisions are made on the basis of whether what is decided will help the organization accomplish its vision. Since a vision statement is not a vision until there is buy-in from the organization’s employees, we also provided some methods of gaining buy-in from employees.

Since a vision statement is not a vision until there is buy-in from the organization’s employees, we also provided some methods of gaining buy-in from employees.
This month we want to focus on another essential ingredient in the process of building or reshaping organizational culture – core values. The mission and vision will take you nowhere if they are not connected to the actual values of your organization. When the vision and mission connect with the core values, they can provide guidelines for the winning behaviors and mindsets necessary to achieve the goals. Core values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what an organization values. They are the essence of the organization’s identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy of values. Many executives make the mistake of only focusing on the technical competencies of employees and often fail to focus on the underlying competencies that make their organization perform well – core values.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 2

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 2

In last month’s article we defined the term “organizational culture” and introduced the first step in building or reshaping organizational culture which was to establish a mission which defines the organization’s purpose and provides meaning to the work employees do.

A reader of last month’s column suggested that it would be helpful to see some examples of good mission statements. As you read the mission statements below ask yourself does the statement tell what the organization does, for whom it does it and what the impact of doing it is? Is it written succinctly so that any employee could recite it upon request?

Google: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”

Amazon: “to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online”

At first glance, “to find” and “discover” might seem redundant. However, the language is purposeful because Amazon is hoping people might discover something that they were not looking for in the first place, but catches their interest while browsing.

Mel Brown and Associates: “to equip individuals and organizations to accomplish their visions, missions, and goals”

Every service Mel Brown and Associates provides (leadership development coaching, mentoring, training, organizational assessments, program evaluations, staff development, conducting management studies, contract monitoring, facilitation of processes for vision and mission development, policy and procedure development, and executive searches, strategic planning, etc.) is to equip our clients to accomplish their visions, missions and goals.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 1

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 1

Within the last few months I have had a number of discussions with organizational executives in which the executive raised a question regarding vision and/or mission development, establishing core values, changing or creating an organizational culture, developing an effective employee performance appraisal system, enhancing employee accountability, or improving employee retention.

While the executives in each of these discussions was starting at a different focal point, in each conversation the executive’s overall focus was on how to improve the organizational environment to one in which employees were productively engaged in accomplishing the goals of the organization.

As a result of those discussions along with my observations during three recent projects in which we facilitated a vision and mission development process, conducted an organizational needs assessment and provided training on implementing an effective performance appraisal system, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to the readers of “Contemplation Corner” if I did a series of articles dealing with building or reshaping an organization’s culture.

Productive People

Productive People

Have you ever noticed that some the “busiest” people you know are often the least successful? Did you ever wonder why?
In my work as a leadership and organizational consultant, I interact with dozens of organizational executives each month. Some consistently set and achieve their goals while others seem to be in a constant state of struggle to get anything accomplished.
What I find interesting is that the executives who struggle the most seem to be the ones who are constantly talking about how “busy” they are. When I ask them what they are busy doing, their responses usually relate to dealing with urgent, unplanned situations, reacting to situations that are outside their control, or completing tasks that could be easily delegated to someone else in the organization. Yet, when they discuss the things they “have to do,” they sincerely believe that they “just can’t find the time” to work on the things they had planned to do or would like to do.

A Discussion Regarding Leadership

A Discussion Regarding Leadership

In discussions regarding leadership, the question is frequently asked, “Are leaders made or born?” When asked this question, I often quip, “Both. I have never met a leader who wasn’t born.” However, the truth of the matter is that I do not believe anyone is a “born leader.” I am a firm believer that leadership is not something innate, but learned.

Some people learn leadership at an early age because they were raised in a family that modeled good leadership. Other leaders were less fortunate and had to learn their leadership skills by other methods.

The obvious question then is “how does one learn to be a leader?” The answer is “the same way any other behavior is learned.” That being the case, let’s explore how leadership is actually learned.

Through Personal Experience

You can learn through trial and error. Former major league pitcher Vernon Law suggested “Experience is the best teacher because she gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.” Every leader learns through experience. Leadership is often going where no one has gone before and blazing the trail. That is part of what makes a leader a leader. In fact, one thing that makes a great leader is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes.

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